The first Volvo excavator to be built at the Volvo Construction Equipment manufacturing facility in Asheville, North Carolina, rolled off the production line Friday, November 9, 2007. The rollout event in Asheville was attended by several hundred city, county, state and Congressional public officials, private industry executives, company management, dealers, customers and personnel, industry and local and regional members of the media, and members of the Swedish embassy from Washington, D.C. It also marked the initial revealing of the results of a $25 million to $56 million investment dedicated over the next several years to the expansion of the company's fabrication and assembly capabilities to meet growing requirements in the excavator market in North America.
Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) announced in June of 2006 that it would make a significant investment in the Asheville plant expansion and more than double its number of employees to meet the growth of its construction equipment market. The expansion of the plant and its manufacturing capabilities was made possible in part by grants and incentives from the state of North Carolina (Job Development Investment Grant), the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community College System, N. C. Department of Transportation, Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe, and Advantage West.
Dave Million, Vice President, Volvo Construction Equipment and the plant's general manager, paid tribute to the organizations that made the continuing development of the manufacturing complex possible. Million credited the support of the state, county and city government agencies with the decision to expand the company's Asheville construction equipment operation. The new production program will add between 250 and 300 new employees at the company.
The Asheville plant, a modern 400,000 square foot facility, is now building four (4) of Volvo eleven (11) excavator models - the Volvo EC160C, Volvo EC210C, Volvo EC330C, and the Volvo EC360C. A Volvo EC160C hydraulic excavator was the first machine off the production line on November 9. The company will continue to produce five (5) models of the 10-model Volvo wheel loader product line and will also has begun production of excavator and wheel loader cabs. Initial deliveries of the excavators will be made to markets in the United States and Canada.
Since the beginning of Volvo's development of its excavator line in 1998, the company has established major production and delivery operations in key markets around the world, first in Korea and China, then Germany, and now North America. Production of excavators by Volvo CE has more than doubled during the ensuing nine (9) years, demonstrating the company's increasing strength in the market and, with the addition of the new manufacturing operation in Asheville, its commitment of long-term dedication of service to its customers.
The Asheville production facility is an important member of the entire worldwide Volvo Group manufacturing complex which is spread across four continents. Excavator production in Asheville will give customers and dealers several advantages in the marketplace. These include shorter product delivery lead time and greater customization flexibility. Company officials have estimated that delivery time of these machines can be reduced by as much as 50 percent from present-day schedules.
Denny Slagle, President and CEO, Volvo Construction Equipment North America, the Volvo CE sales, marketing, and customer support company for North America, said at the product launch that "today is very special to us as we begin the delivery to market of our fastest growing product line and demonstrate to our customers our dedication and commitment of manufacturing excellence. And it also shows to our community our faith in hardworking, well-trained workers who can produce Volvo equipment."
Volvo CE's history of building construction equipment in Asheville goes back to the late 1970s, when Clark Equipment, which began building for the construction industry here in 1977, and Volvo CE merged to form VME in 1987. Volvo CE acquired the Clark interest and the company was re-named Volvo Construction Equipment in 1995. Close proximity to major shipping routes has simplified distribution and streamlined the supply chain for the production process. The modern plant has dedicated work teams, provides consistent quality improvements, labor savings and cost controls, and efficient production procedures to meet ISO 9000, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 certification criteria.
In October, the manufacturing facility in Asheville was awarded the North Carolina Shingo Silver Prize for Manufacturing Excellence. The Shingo Prize is named for the Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo who helped create many aspects of the revolutionary manufacturing practices of the Toyota Production System. It is given to organizations that have positive improvements trends in their business functions. The award was given Volvo Construction Equipment for its continuous improvement in total cost reduction and quality practices.
Volvo Construction Equipment North America, Inc.